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Re: Program occasionally crashes on startup due to GNUstepDefaults.lck e

From: Richard Frith-Macdonald
Subject: Re: Program occasionally crashes on startup due to GNUstepDefaults.lck error
Date: Sat, 17 Jun 2017 07:04:03 +0100

> On 16 Jun 2017, at 10:48, Wolfgang Lux <wolfgang.lux@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Am 14.06.2017 um 22:29 schrieb Lobron, David <dlobron@akamai.com>:
>> Hello GNUstep people,
>> I'm debugging an occasional crash that we've observed on machines that run 
>> 20 instances of a GNUstep-based program.  The crash does not occur often, 
>> and I can't reproduce it on demand, but when it does occur, we see a message 
>> like this: 
>> mapmaker_7.exe: Uncaught exception NSGenericException, reason: Unable to get 
>> attributes of lock file we made at 
>> /root/GNUstep/Defaults/.lck/.GNUstepDefaults.lck
>> Since the lock file path is absolute, I suspect the problem here is 
>> contention among the various processes for the same file if two or more of 
>> them are starting up at exactly the same time.  However, I would expect a 
>> lock file to be impervious to multiple readers.  Maybe there is a non-atomic 
>> operation happening here.  I searched the code for "GNUstepDefaults.lck", 
>> but I did find it there.  The /root/GNUstep/Defaults/.lck is normally empty, 
>> so it seems like this is a transient file.
>> Does anyone know if there's a recommended way to handle this?  Is it a known 
>> issue?
> Sort of. I've seen many issues revolving around GNUstepDefaults.lck in the 
> past here.
> However, looking at the code I'm afraid the reason is simply that the 
> NSDistributedLock implementation is broken (and apparently is so for quite 
> some time). :-(
> The problem is that the code of NSDistributedLock was changed to use 
> -[NSFileManager 
> createDirectoryAtPath:withIntermediateDirectories:attributes:error:] with the 
> second argument set to YES so that it would create intermediate directories. 
> However, that means that this method returns YES regardless of whether the 
> new directory already exists or not. I think changing the parameter to NO 
> should fix your (and everyone else's) issue.

Thanks a lot for that Wolfgang, I've spent days trying to figure out why the 
user defaults locks were occasionally failing, looking in completely the wrong 
area (threading mostly)' and never considering it might be something as basic 
as that.  It's great that you spotted the cause of the problem.
I have changed the NSDistributedLock code (github) to use O/S level functions 
to create the lock directory, to be sure that if a directory already exists we 
see the creation attempt as failing rather than succeeding.

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